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Film better than the book
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Kieran Offline
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Film better than the book
It's an old saying, "the book is always better than the film." We all think it, when somebody mentions almost anything that's based upon a book. It becomes one of those things people will race to say, in the conversation, just to be considered right at least once in their lives.

But what about films that bucked the trend? The films that are better than the book? Example: The Exorcist. I remember reading the book years ago and I thought it was tripe. The film is chilling.

A classic example was Gone With The Wind, the film of which I preferred to the book, mainly because of Clark Gable's timeless performance of Rhett Butler. A more recent example - for me - is the Benjamin Button film, which I considered to be better than the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, but that being because it was a short story, and the film had more leeway to tell a grander tale. Usually, whoever says "the book is always better than the film" finds themselves beaten to the reason why, by another know-all: "you always get more in the book." With Benjamin Button, you got less.

What examples can you think of, where the film was superior to the book? I bet there's loads of them, and if we come up with enough, we can be the wiseacre that cracks the old canard: "the book is always better than the film." We can be the ones who wait until smartar$e #2 has said, "you always get more in the book."

Let that one settle in, and when everybody nods wisely at the truism, we introduce our list.

"Not necessarily, what about..?" Popcorn

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25-Jul-2015 06:41 AM
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tented (07-25-2015)
1972Murat Offline
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RE: Film better than the book
Maybe not better but as good is Shawshank Redemption.

25-Jul-2015 01:53 PM
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Kieran (07-25-2015)
Kieran Offline
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RE: Film better than the book
A good example. The book was very good, but the film was great. I think The Green Mile falls under the same category, though I never read that book...

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25-Jul-2015 04:30 PM
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tented Offline
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RE: Film better than the book
You got my go-to example: "Gone with the Wind"

Other than that, I can't think of one. I thought the director's cuts of the Lord of the Rings films were outstanding, and brought everything to life in a way the books didn't, but I wouldn't say they surpassed the novels. Pretty close, though, IMO.

Has anyone ever read any of the Philip K. Dick novels or short stories which have been the basis for several sci-fi films, such as Blade Runner ("Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"), Total Recall ("We Can Remember It For You Wholesale"), The Adjustment Bureau ("Adjustment Team"), Minority Report, or Paycheck? Some interesting titles in there, but I've never read any of the books/stories.
25-Jul-2015 04:39 PM
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Kirijax Offline
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RE: Film better than the book
Trying to think of some but they are few and far between maybe. One I can name is "Dances With Wolves". I saw the movie and then read the book by Michael Blake. It was rather meh. I loved the movie though.

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25-Jul-2015 04:58 PM
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Kieran (07-26-2015)
jhar26 Offline
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RE: Film better than the book
Not better, but just as good - the Hunger Games movies. The books are great, but they don't have Jennifer Lawrence. Smile
26-Jul-2015 01:15 PM
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DarthFed Offline
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RE: Film better than the book
It's not a movie but I prefer the Game of Thrones show over the books.
27-Jul-2015 07:07 PM
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Kieran (07-29-2015)
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RE: Film better than the book
Peter Benchley wrote "Jaws" and it was a huge bestseller and very good, but the film elevated the story--not the least being Robert Shaw (one of the great actors).

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27-Jul-2015 09:25 PM
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Broken_Shoelace Offline
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RE: Film better than the book
I don't know if it's better, but the Lord of the Rings trilogy is my personal favorite Book-to-Film adaptation.
28-Jul-2015 12:55 AM
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Kieran Offline
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RE: Film better than the book
The Lord of the Rings gets a special mention as a book that used to be thought unfilmable, until modern computer technology made these beasts and orcs and fantastic forests and battles possible, but to me, the books are superior, just because (cough) "you always get more in the book." And the beautiful way they're written. But I agree, as Book-To-Film adaptation, I'm struggling to think of anything better. I could watch and re-watch them films without losing interest, or skipping any parts of them, they're that great...

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29-Jul-2015 02:05 PM
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britbox Offline
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RE: Film better than the book
(29-Jul-2015 02:05 PM)Kieran Wrote:  The Lord of the Rings gets a special mention as a book that used to be thought unfilmable, until modern computer technology made these beasts and orcs and fantastic forests and battles possible, but to me, the books are superior, just because (cough) "you always get more in the book." And the beautiful way they're written. But I agree, as Book-To-Film adaptation, I'm struggling to think of anything better. I could watch and re-watch them films without losing interest, or skipping any parts of them, they're that great...

Yeah, I'm with you on this... the books were classics in their own right but the films were excellent adaptations and may even surpass the written word.

I can only really think of one character in the book who I didn't relate to at all in the movies - Denother of Gondor.... He was a far more noble character in the books.
05-Aug-2015 07:40 AM
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Kieran (08-05-2015)
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RE: Film better than the book
(05-Aug-2015 07:40 AM)britbox Wrote:  
(29-Jul-2015 02:05 PM)Kieran Wrote:  The Lord of the Rings gets a special mention as a book that used to be thought unfilmable, until modern computer technology made these beasts and orcs and fantastic forests and battles possible, but to me, the books are superior, just because (cough) "you always get more in the book." And the beautiful way they're written. But I agree, as Book-To-Film adaptation, I'm struggling to think of anything better. I could watch and re-watch them films without losing interest, or skipping any parts of them, they're that great...

Yeah, I'm with you on this... the books were classics in their own right but the films were excellent adaptations and may even surpass the written word.

I can only really think of one character in the book who I didn't relate to at all in the movies - Denother of Gondor.... He was a far more noble character in the books.

Yeah, he became a more one-dimensional figure in the films. And of course, the films did away with the most marvelous and mysterious character of them all, Tom Bombadil. It would have been nigh impossible to fit him in, but still, he's worthy of some film scenes, even in the bloated Hobbit series (since they took terrible liberties with that one)...

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05-Aug-2015 08:16 AM
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Broken_Shoelace (08-06-2015)
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RE: Film better than the book
Jurassic Park. Both are good, but I definitely prefer the movie. All crappy novel adaptations of movies...

As to the heresy that the LOTR movies are better than the books. Well, I don't even know what to say.
06-Aug-2015 09:29 AM
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Kieran (08-06-2015)
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RE: Film better than the book
It is a heresy (one which nobody has come out and said, but most people agree that the film adaptations are extraordinary in their own right), because the book is exceptional, but I've begun to watch the films again this last week - I finished the first and I'm in the middle of the second - and what strikes me is every scene is well thought-out, acted, it grabs you the way the book does, it has an incredible array of characters and action, and it's possibly as faithful to the book as could be, without ending up as six films (and why not six films, eh?). But the book has depth and all the appendices and even more characters and action. Plus, the film is at a disadvantage, because although it's excellently cast and visually brings almost everything from the book to life, we all have our own image of these characters which we got from reading the book, and not every character in the film might tally with this.

But as I say, books which are unfilmable? Take this one off the list. Peter Jackson was a very sympathetic film-maker when he got stuck into this one.

The Hobbit, though... No No

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06-Aug-2015 10:09 AM
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Riotbeard (08-06-2015)
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RE: Film better than the book
(06-Aug-2015 10:09 AM)Kieran Wrote:  It is a heresy (one which nobody has come out and said, but most people agree that the film adaptations are extraordinary in their own right), because the book is exceptional, but I've begun to watch the films again this last week - I finished the first and I'm in the middle of the second - and what strikes me is every scene is well thought-out, acted, it grabs you the way the book does, it has an incredible array of characters and action, and it's possibly as faithful to the book as could be, without ending up as six films (and why not six films, eh?). But the book has depth and all the appendices and even more characters and action. Plus, the film is at a disadvantage, because although it's excellently cast and visually brings almost everything from the book to life, we all have our own image of these characters which we got from reading the book, and not every character in the film might tally with this.

But as I say, books which are unfilmable? Take this one off the list. Peter Jackson was a very sympathetic film-maker when he got stuck into this one.

The Hobbit, though... No No

My issues with the movies are the action centric approach. I am pretty much 100% happy with Fellowship. I thought making two towers about the battle instead of gandalf vs. saruman was a mistake! Return of the King has similar issues. Jackson loves the monsters and the battles so much that I think he loses some great character moments. And the use of the ghost army as deus ex machine for Minas Tirith, deflates all the tension. Somebody should have stopped and said: "Hey guys, I know what I said, but what 24 more hours, we're marching on mordor. After that we'll waltz in, destroy ring, and then you guys can get some piece. What's one more day? Am I right? Come on, let's get serious." They ruined Faramir too and made him diet boramir. Denethor also was not very interesting in the movies.

Don't get me wrong I like Two Towers and Return of the King, but they are far below the books!
(This post was last modified: 06-Aug-2015 01:00 PM by Riotbeard.)
06-Aug-2015 12:59 PM
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Kieran (08-06-2015)
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RE: Film better than the book
^ Riotbeard, did you watch the director's cuts of the LOTR films, or the theatrical releases? The differences are significant, especially with the Two Towers. I remember walking out of the movie, thinking, "WTF?! Jackson took a 15-20 page battle, and turned it into nearly a third of the film." But the director's cut is much more balanced in its approach.
06-Aug-2015 02:39 PM
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Kieran (08-06-2015)
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RE: Film better than the book
^^ That's true, but this is where the dynamic of a movie is a lot different to a book. The film demands a spectacular climax. In fairness, the more I think about it, the LOTR could certainly have been spread across more movies, but at the time they probably felt that would be pushing it. They got bold with the Hobbit, to its detriment, imo. But the films rely more on stark terms, black and white, with little space for character stuff, but this is more a problem with the form, than the films: the films would last longer than a TV mini-series if they tried to go as deeply into things as the books...

EDIT: I'm watching the director's cut and the action is moved to Helm's Deep. I'm kinda debating whether or not to stay up and watch it all in one sitting, because regardless of anything, the battle scenes are brilliant. I didn't like how they "killed" Aragorn as a cheap thrill for the uninitiated, though. i know, the films have to stand apart, but that was unnecessary. Just watched that bit now...

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06-Aug-2015 03:53 PM
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RE: Film better than the book
(06-Aug-2015 02:39 PM)tented Wrote:  ^ Riotbeard, did you watch the director's cuts of the LOTR films, or the theatrical releases? The differences are significant, especially with the Two Towers. I remember walking out of the movie, thinking, "WTF?! Jackson took a 15-20 page battle, and turned it into nearly a third of the film." But the director's cut is much more balanced in its approach.

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RE: Film better than the book
This seems like a general book vs. film issue, than a particular book-to-film adaptation issue. The book will almost always be more detailed, more methodical, character driven, etc... because it can.

The LOTR movies are phenomenal in their own right. I thought Jackson took the right approach, as maintaining the audience's attention for a combined 9 hours (give or take) was a challenge.
07-Aug-2015 01:52 AM
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Kieran (08-07-2015)
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RE: Film better than the book
That's it. I finished the second one last night, and although the Helm's Deep segment is long, it's fairly brilliant - although the FX looked cheap and lego-like when the orcs blew up the wall. Already the technology is probably out of date. But still, it's fairly graphic and exciting, and the hairs still raise when the elves turn up, just before the great battle. This is a heroic tale, adventurous and broad. Gimli gets a bit irritating after a while, but while I watched, i was thinking of this thread too, and also about how expertly Peter Jackson paced everything, how he kept the clarity so we didn't get confused about who's doing what, and where, and how he showed three simultaneous battles (Helm's Deep, the ents at Isengard, and Frodo and Faramir at Osgiliath) without losing sight of the big picture.

You're going to lose something when you make a film of a book, and with LOTR, it's so long that if there weren't huge battle spectaculars, the cinema seats might feel a bit hard and stiff, after the 3rd hour...

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